Like with other diets, when you begin a low carbohydrate diet, initial weight loss is rapid. This is not usually due to fat-burning but rather water loss. The beginning of the diet also causes withdrawal effects that include headaches and dizziness (called keto flu). It may take a few days to adjust to these headaches and dizziness when they begin.
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When does keto flu start when following an ultra-low carb diet?
As little as three days or as much as three weeks, as reported in Keto Clarity.
The first week when following a ketogenic diet usually does not involve much effort and the diet can be enjoyed without feeling deprived because you’re still in the honeymoon stage of great energy levels and rapid weight loss. The second or third week when following a ketogenic diet it is common for some people to experience headaches or dizziness when beginning a ketogenic diet (this is commonly referred to as the keto flu).
Some people report feeling lousy when following a low carbohydrate, high fat diet when the carbohydrates are drastically reduced. Ketosis can be very uncomfortable in the beginning and not everyone will experience keto-flu. Most people solve this problem by taking exogenous sources of ketones when they begin a very low carbohydrate diet. If you are eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, consider taking exogenous ketones to avoid the experience of keto-flu when beginning your low-carb high-fat diet (LCHF).
If you’re just starting the keto diet, a food journal specifically for keto like this one can help you to stay on track. Track your meals, macros, mood, fasting times and movement daily to spot helpful and harmful patterns that help you achieve your weight loss and health goals.
Exogenous Ketones for Keto Flu
Ketone supplements, when used in conjunction with an LCHF diet, can eliminate the unpleasant effects of keto-flu when following a low carbohydrate diet. Use them when beginning your low-carb high-fat diet if you are worried about feeling sick or having headaches when starting.
When we eat carbohydrates our body releases insulin which provides us with energy but also stops the release of fat from our fat cells. If you are on a high carbohydrate diet when starting your keto diet, chances are you will experience a drop in energy and increased hunger. This is when people commonly say they feel “sick” when starting their low-carb high-fat keto diet.
Once the body is adapted to burning fat, when you begin a low carbohydrate diet when following the ketogenic diet, your body will go through withdrawal when switching from one source of fuel to another. It takes time for our bodies to adapt and when the switch happens quickly it can cause these flu-like symptoms. We have all been there when following a ketogenic diet and if you find that this happens when beginning a low carb diet, no worries. Give yourself two weeks for your body time to reach nutritional ketosis and get over the “withdrawal effects” of eating so much fat and protein when just starting out on a low-carb diet.
Keto flu when following a low carbohydrate diet may be caused by the release of hormones when switching from burning carbohydrates to burning fat as the primary fuel. This sudden drop in blood sugar causes an increase in hunger when beginning a ketogenic diet when you’re coming off a high carb, moderate protein, and very low-fat diet. Using exogenous ketones to flush your body with the very thing we’re trying to produce more of, will have a positive effect on your initial symptoms. You don’t need to take exogenous ketones throughout your lifetime on this diet. I use them only when I’m trying to get back into ketosis after going off-cycle for a long period of time.
Keto Flu when Following a Low Carbohydrate Diet
Just because you’re feeling a little off when beginning a ketogenic diet does not mean you have failed. Most people when first starting to change their lifestyle feel worse before they start to feel better. This will also happen when switching from high sugar and carbohydrates to using fat for fuel. I’ve seen so many people in Facebook Groups quit before they feel and see the benefits. Be patient…the benefits far outweigh the keto flu and these symptoms can be managed by taking your electrolytes and exogenous ketones.
How Much Should I Eat on Keto?
A common mistake when beginning the keto diet is to eat less because that is what we’re accustomed to when dieting. Restricting your calories is not the best way to lose weight when following the ketogenic diet. A slow and easy transition to keto is best. Your cravings will eventually work themselves out, trust me on this!
Your appetite will regulate yourself because protein and fat are very satiating! You’ll find yourself craving butter, steak and bacon but you can’t overeat these things. Your body will naturally tell you when to stop. Unlike carbs, where we are all hungry an hour after eating an entire pizza, even though we feel bloated and awful.
So if you’re just starting out, have fun trying all the new keto recipes you’re coming across. You will eventually find your favorite go-to recipes. Just don’t indulge in too many fat bombs as you may cause yourself to have a weight-loss stall.
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The keto flu is a temporary, but unpleasant side effect of the body getting used to being in ketosis. It should subside after about a week or two and can be alleviated by drinking plenty of water, eating saltier foods and taking your supplements. If you experience these symptoms while on the Keto Diet plan for extended periods then I recommend that you consult your physician for advice before continuing with it. I hope this information has been helpful!
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